More on Tombstone Discovery At Washington Square Park Which Could Date Back to 18th Century — Update: Confirmed!

Update 2:13 p.m! Confirmed by NYC Parks Department.

From Cristina DeLuca from NYC Parks Department Press Office:

Yes, I can confirm. Archaeologists and engineers are on the scene to make a preliminary report and nothing further is known at this time.

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More information on the tombstone that may have been was uncovered on Friday, October 23rd at Washington Square Park during construction recently begun for WSP Redesign: Phase II.

Matt Kovary grew up in Greenwich Village, works nearby and passes by the location every day. He contacted WSP Blog on Friday after walking by the Park that afternoon when he noticed that there was a large hole dug about 6 feet below the surface in the fenced-off construction area, right at the perimeter of the chain-link fence on the southern edge at Washington Square South and Sullivan Street.

According to Mr. Kovary, there were two people inside the fence, a man and a woman, poring over and dusting off what appeared to be a tombstone which he believed had been recovered from the hole. They were taking pictures of it, and, when he asked whether it was indeed a tombstone, the woman would only state that it was “sandstone,” admitting she was not authorized to talk about it.

Mr. Kovary said that the artifact looked like “a tombstone, not unlike those you’d see at Trinity Church – but in much better condition.” He wondered if it could have been “related to the original land owner” and questioned whether this came from a “family cemetery” from 200 years ago or more.

Although skeletons and human bones from the Park’s time period as a “potter’s field” (1797-1825) have been discovered as recently as last year (see WSP blog entry “The Skeletons of Washington Square Park” – it’s believed more than 20,000 bodies are buried under the park), there seems to be less information about – and discovery related toprivate cemetery usage before the area was a New York City park.

In Emily Kies Folpe’s book “It Happened on Washington Square,” she writes:

From time to time, some of these old bones have resurfaced. …

More evidence was uncovered in 1890, when workmen digging the foundation for the Arch came upon headstones with German inscriptions dating to 1803, thought to be from a private German graveyard at the north side of the field.

Now confirmed – as first reported here October 23rd! – the discovery of a tombstone at Washington Square Park during Phase II construction. More to come.

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Was a Tombstone Discovered Today at Washington Square Park While Digging Up Southwest side?

As many people know, Washington Square Park was previously a burial ground – a “potters field” – from 1797-1825.  It is believed that up to 20,000 bodies were buried there at that time.  During Phase I redesign construction in mid-to-late January of 2008, workers found at least four intact skeletons and 70-80 human bones (See Previous WSP Blog postThe Skeletons of Washington Square Park).  Construction work began over the last few weeks on Washington Square Park Redesign: Phase II (focusing on the Northeast, Southeast and Southwest parts of the park).  Now comes word from a blog visitor who walked by the park today that he saw a tombstone uncovered thereAny more information on this?

Here is the comment:

October 23, 2009

Do you have any information on a tombstone that was uncovered today in WSP at the corner of Sullivan and West 4th Street? I saw the back of it with my own eyes being dusted and photographed inside the chain-link fence. The small crew were very tight lipped.

Sincerely, Matt Kovary

Note: Check back! I will find out more information if available.

Washington Square Park Redesign: Phase II — Photos

Fences Up SouthWest Side!

Fences Up SouthWest Side!

Where Do Old Benches Go To Die?

Where Do Old Benches Go To Die?

NorthEast Entrance Benches Gone

NorthEast Entrance Benches Gone

Performing Ftn Plaza by Fence

WSP Tree "Protection" Could Certainly be Improved

WSP Tree "Protection" Could Certainly be Improved

Soon to be Demolished Alcove SE Side (4 will Remain; 2 Removed)

Soon to be Demolished Alcove SE Side (4 will Remain; 2 Removed)

Park Closes 12 a.m.?

Park Closes 12 a.m.?

WSP Blog is taking a short hiatus until Monday, November 2nd (right before Election Day!) but there’s still a few posts lingering (more updated photos of the work, and some commentary) that I’ll post in the interim so check back!

Electric Literature Soapbox Reading Series #2 Tuesday, October 20th at Washington Square Park 12 noon – 4 p.m.

Electric Literature:  The Soapbox Reading Series #2 @ Washington Square Park * Tuesday, October 20th

Electric Literature is a magazine featuring literary fiction based in Brooklyn.  Tuesday, October 20th is part 2 of their Soapbox Reading Series.  They invite you to come have your lunch in Washington Square Park… and enjoy a story.  Last Tuesday was the first of the two-part series and it was a very interesting event.  They hope to resume the series in Spring 2010.

Where:  Washington Square Park * “Holley Plaza” (West of the Fountain)
Who:  Stephen O’Connor with guests: Christie Hauser, Lauren Belski, & Wythe Marschall

From the release:

The Electric Literature Soapbox Reading Series is exactly what it sounds like: Writers will read their work atop a box in the middle of Washington Square Park.

Washington Square has a long and storied history of both arts and activism. The Soapbox readings will entertain and promote literary fiction by connecting authors directly with the public, while celebrating the diversity of the city and its cultural wealth.

Stephen O’Connor is the author of books including: Rescue (short fiction and poetry), Will My Name Be Shouted Out? (memoir and social criticism), and the forthcoming Here Comes Another Lesson(short fiction), as well as fiction and poetry (published in outlets such as The New Yorker, Poetry Magazine, Threepenny Review) and essays and journalism (which have appeared in The New York Times, The Nation, The Chicago Tribune).  He has won numerous prestigious awards for his writing and currently teaches fiction and nonfiction writing in the MFA programs of Columbia and Sarah Lawrence.

Next NYC Mayoral Debate Tuesday, Oct. 27th, 7 p.m.; Two Male Candidates, All Male Reporters will Conduct “Debate”

The next NYC Mayoral Debate will be held Tuesday, October 27th from 7- 8 p.m. between (candidate-with-multiple-paid-for-party-affiliations-but-declared-as) Independent Michael Bloomberg and Democratic Party Candidate William Thompson.  It will air on WABC-TV, 1010 WINS Radio, and at 7online.com.

All New York City election debates are presented by the Campaign Finance Board.  There are ONLY two debates between the candidates for Mayor of New York City. New Yorkers only get to hear from the more moderate candidates from the “major” parties, basically those with major corporate and political ties. There are actually seven other candidates running on other party lines and it would be far more interesting – and informative – if Reverend Billy Talen (Green Party) and the guy from the Rent is Too Damn High Party, among all the others, were included.

Last week’s debate was broadcast on NY1 and WNYC Radio.  The moderator was Dominic Carter from NY1 and the press panel asking questions of the two male candidates were all men.  I thought… it’s one debate. That certainly can’t happen for the other debate. Oh, how wrong I was. While diversity as far as race seems to have been given consideration, gender … not so muchThere’s not one woman included in this all male club.  Seems hard to imagine in New York City but, given the political (and cultural) climate, I shouldn’t be surprised.

Here’s the info for the next Mayoral debate:

MODERATOR: Bill Ritter (WABC-TV)

REPORTER PANEL:  Dave Evans (WABCTV), Antonio Martinez (UNIVISION), Stan Brooks (1010 WINS)

Here is the general information as far as format:

Candidates will answer questions from reporters on the panel, pre-taped questions from voters and viewer emails.  http://www.7online.com also will be open during the debate to take live voter questions.  WABC web producer will screen those emails before adding them to the debate.  Questions will reflect the interests and concerns of a diverse voting population.

Response Time, Follow Up Questions, Rebuttal, Re-rebuttal:  Candidates will be allowed 60 seconds to answer each question, 30 seconds for rebuttal.  (Stage manager will hold up cards indicating 15 sec, 5 sec, and time up)   For production and timing purposes, the moderator may choose to break up longer rounds with questions requiring short answers.

Props, Notes:  Candidates may not use visual aids, charts, prepared notes, or electronic devices on the set.

Pads, Pen:  Candidates will be provided with a blank pad of paper and pen at their podiums for the purpose of making notes during the Debate.

Closing Statement:  Candidates may make a 60 second closing statement.

The debate will take place at:  WABC Studio, 7 Lincoln Square (149 Columbus Avenue), Manhattan.

Oh, and if you have anything you want to comment on to the Campaign Finance Board in advance (like, say, why there is not at least one woman reporter as a panelist), here is contact information:

NYC Campaign Finance Board:  email:  AKonstam-at-nyccfb.info; 40 Rector Street, 7th floor, NYC 10006; phone # 212/306-7100.

WABC here : eyewitness.news-at-abc.com  or WABC-TV, 7 Lincoln Square, NY, NY 10003; phone # 212/456-7000.

Freddy’s Brooklyn Roundhouse Cable/Internet Show Covers Jane Jacobs’ Event at Judson Church in Two Episodes

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Freddy’s Brooklyn Roundhouse is a well-produced “non-corporate media” outlet, viewed on MNN (Manhattan Neighborhood Network), BCAT (Brooklyn Community Access Television) and YouTube, covering topics such as The Atlantic Yards, media consolidation, Eminent Domain abuse, as well as changes linked to (over) development in NYC.

The program is airing a two part show from September 22nd’s Jane Jacobs event organized by Reverend Billy and held at Judson Memorial Church across from Washington Square Park.

From the release:

The Death and Life of Great American Cities, Jane Jacobs’s most famous book, helped change the blind acceptance of urban planners and their grand schemes to remake cities into unlivable places. Jacobs ended Robert Moses’ reign of bad building and urban destruction. With the misguided development of the Bloomberg administration today, Jane Jacobs’s work is as important as it ever was. Freddy’s Brooklyn Roundhouse presents two new episodes based on readings from Jane Jacobs, filmed at the Judson Church, NYC and hosted by Green Party Mayoral Candidate Rev Billy.

The event is split up into two episodes – links below to YouTube video:

Episode 1: Features neighborhood activists, Michael Premo from Picture the Homeless, Philip Dipaolo from The People’s Firehouse and Joy Chatel, Defender of the Duffield House Brooklyn Underground Railroad landmark.

Episode 2: Features neighborhood activists, Cathryn Swan of the Washington Square Park Blog and Save Union Square, Melanie Joseph of the Foundry Theatre and Christabel Gough, NYC preservationist hero.

Bob Holman, of the Howl Festival & Bowery Poetry Club and former City Councilwoman, Carol Greitzer, are other activists who spoke at the event and were not included in the above shows, due to lack of time, but can be found here.

You can watch Freddy’s Brooklyn Roadhouse weekly Tuesdays at 8 p.m. on BCAT and Thursdays at 8:30 p.m. on MNN.  Episodes are then also uploaded to YouTube.  Episode 1 aired this week but Episode 2 will air next week at the following times and places:  BCAT Tuesday Oct 20, 8 p.m., TimeWarner Cable(Ch. 34)/Cablevision(Ch. 67)/RCN(Ch. 82)Verizon(Ch. 42) and on MNN Thursday Oct 22, 8:30 p.m. TimeWarner Cable(Ch. 56)/Cablevision(Ch. 17)RCN(Ch. 83)Verizon(Ch. 34).  You can watch the shows on YouTube Episode I here; Episode II at this link.

NY Daily News: Insiders Say Term Limits, Supporter Apathy Could Damage Mayor Bloomberg’s Chances of Reelection

Adam Lisberg, The New York Daily News City Hall Bureau Chief, has an interesting article, “Insiders say term limits, supporter apathy could damage Mayor Bloomberg’s chances of reelection,”in today’s paper.

From the article:

Mayor Bloomberg’s campaign may look unbeatable – but some insiders see troubling signs that he could be tossed out of City Hall.

They fear lingering voter anger about term limits, low-turnout primaries, passionate anti-Bloomberg Democrats and complacent Bloomberg supporters could combine to create the biggest political upset of a generation.

“I’d be worried,” said one of the mayor’s prominent backers, who fears moderate pro-Bloomberg voters won’t bother voting Nov. 3 if they assume the mayor will win.

“If you’re just a voter who kind of likes Bloomberg, you don’t come out,” this backer said. “If you hate Bloomberg . . . you come out.”

The prospect of loss may seem laughable to New Yorkers who have been bombarded with ads and mailers from Bloomberg’s $64.8 million campaign.

And then this:

“You don’t have hundreds of thousands of people who think Bloomberg is next to God,” said one of his [candidate Bill Thompson’s] Democratic backers. “You have thousands of people who just hate this man.”

Read more here.

Phase II Washington Square Park Redesign: The Signs Arrive!

"Working to Improve Your Park"

"Working to Improve Your Park"

To get to the Dog Run Now...

To get to the Dog Run Now...

SouthEast Corner WSP Sign (Knocked over...)

SouthEast Corner WSP Sign (Knocked over...)

Last week, I was wondering where the signs were that would alert people as to why 1/2 of Washington Square Park, a public space, was now suddenly shuttered to public use.  The signs have now arrived – although sporadically placed – and the top official NYC Parks Department “Working to Improve Your Park” sign states that work on Phase II will be completed Fall 2010.  In case you were wondering…

Photos: Cat

First NYC Mayoral Debate between Michael Bloomberg and William Thompson Tonite Live on NY1 * Plus A Video To See

The first NYC Mayoral Debate between Democrat-turned-Republican-turned-Independent-turned-‘whoever will support me (and I can throw some money at), I’ll be their-candidate’ Michael Bloomberg and Democratic Party candidate William Thompson will occur tonite, Tuesday, October 13th.  It will last only one hour from 7 to 8 p.m. and will be broadcast LIVE on NY1 from El Museo Del Barrio in East Harlem.

Here is a video worth watching from Stop Mayor Bloomberg with some incredible quotes from President Obama and David Letterman (and Jackie Mason!) about Mayor Mike.  The background music to the video is Carly Simon‘s song “You’re So Vain.”

At NY1.com, they write:

For City Comptroller Bill Thompson, Tuesday night’s debate on NY1 could prove to be a turning point. A chance to win over voters and push back against the mayor’s formidable campaign operation fueled, so far, by $65 million in spending. It’s also a chance for him to highlight what he says are the differences between himself and the incumbent.

If you look at the last eight years, there has been a focus on big developments and big developers and Wall Street and wealthy New Yorkers,” Thompson said. “I see New York City as being more focused on middle class New Yorkers and working New Yorkers and poor families.”

The mayor, meanwhile, kept his cards close to his vest on Monday.

“Tomorrow night will be an opportunity for my opponent and I to say what we’ve done and what we would do,” Bloomberg said.

When asked about what could be filed under the “what we would do” category, Bloomberg on Monday pointed to the issue of taxes.

“I think that we can get through the next fiscal year without any tax increases in the city,” Bloomberg said.

(Really he’ll say anything that he thinks will attract people to vote for him.  And it’s fascinating – and disturbing – how Mike Bloomberg acts like he has not been Mayor for the last 8 years.  For example, NOW he has plans to improve the subways?)

The election will take place Tuesday, November 3rdPlease vote! (And NOT for Michael Bloomberg!)

Previous WSP Blog posts on Mayor Bloomberg:

* Why Mayor Bloomberg wants Redesign of Washington Square Park/NYC

* The Blanding of New York City: Why It’s Time for Mayor Mike to Go

Electric Literature “Soapbox Reading Series” Arrives at Washington Square Park for Two Tuesdays – October 13th and 20th; 12 noon

At the Park!  On Tuesday, October 13th and Tuesday, October 20th, “The Soapbox Reading Series” arrives at Washington Square Park presented by literary magazine Electric Literature which is based in Brooklyn.  Authors of literary fiction with a variety of writing styles will read their work “atop a box in the middle of Washington Square Park.”  The readings will take place from 12 noon – 1:30 p.m.

From the release:

Washington Square has a long and storied history of both arts and activism. To celebrate the area, the Soapbox Reading Series is an inclusive event for a diverse audience of passersby, office workers, cops, shoppers and literary enthusiasts sharing in a common, transportive experience.

The Soapbox readings will entertain and promote literary fiction by connecting authors directly with the public, while celebrating the diversity of the city and its cultural wealth.

Dates, Times, Location:

Tuesday, October 13th: Carmiel Banasky + other local writers reading from “Electric Literature”

Tuesday, October 20th: Stephen O’Connor and special guests

Washington Square Park, West of Fountain Plaza

Noon – 1:30pm

About the authors:

Stephen O’Connor is the author of Rescue (short fiction and poetry); Will My Name Be Shouted Out? (memoir and social criticism); Orphan Trains (narrative history), and Here Comes Another Lesson (short fiction), forthcoming from Free Press. His fiction and poetry have been published in The New Yorker, Poetry Magazine, Conjunctions, TriQuarterly, Threepenny Review, Partisan Review, and many other places.

Carmiel Banasky was in Oxford, Mississippi teaching preschool and, in her spare time, attempting to organize a pro-choice movement. When that failed, she found her way to New York City to finally focus on writing. She is currently studying at Hunter College, where she also teaches creative writing. She had two stories published with Glimmer Train Stories, one of which won first prize in their Family Matters contest.  She received her B.A. in Creative Writing from the University of Arizona.

** Event will proceed with sunshine.  Heavy rain will cancel event.  **